Tag Archives: Peat

Whiskey Live Dublin 2019

This years Whiskey Live Dublin show marked a quantitative shift in the fortunes of Irish Whiskey.

The number of new releases on display for the first time was breathtaking – and a bit of a challenge to appreciate in only one session.

Not only new releases though.

New whiskey companies were also in attendance. Companies previously inhabiting websites with ‘under construction’ on the display page were now in full flow offering tangible products to taste.

My game plan was clear – try as many of them as time – and my well being – permitted.

In no particular order – this is what I found.

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21C Edition 2 c/othewhiskeynut

The Celtic Whiskey Shop had again done a marvelous job collating all 16 Irish Whiskey Distilleries with mature stock into this fabulous blend. More flavoursome & complex than last years.

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Hinch core range c/othewhiskeynut

I did a Hinch vertical – one of the new companies currently building their distillery. The peated piqued my palate – but the Small Batch pleased too.

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Irish Proud Blend c/othewhiskeynut

Another new company – Proud Irish – had 2 offerings of a rather easy entry market style. Perhaps more for the tourists?

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Killowen Rum Cask c/othewhiskeynut

Killowen impressed with this Dark Rum Cask Blend. Their new make wasn’t bad either!

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A pair of Gelston’s c/othewhiskeynut

The Gelston’s range from Halewood was far too extensive for a vertical tasting so the 5yo Sherry Cask sufficed. Word of a new distillery too!

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A Smokey Silkie! c/othewhiskeynut

Yes! The return of smoky dry peat to Irish Whiskey was greatly appreciated.

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The Bridge c/othewhiskeynut

As was this sweet yet nuanced single grain single cask first whiskey offering from Lough Ree in Longford.

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Lough Gill Trio c/othewhiskeynut

Lough Gill in Sligo displayed their trio of exquisitely aged single malts showing varying finishing styles.

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Welcome to the Renaissance! c/othewhiskeynut

Irish Whiskey has moved on from simply revival – the renaissance is here – courtesy of Teeling’s new 18yo offering.

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Sade & Bushell 5yo c/othewhiskeynut

Connacht’s new 5yo was a bit too sweet for my palate – but the 12yo version in the background hit the spot.

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W.D.O’Connell c/othewhiskeynut

Despite the depth & complexity of the 17yo – the peat of Bill Phil won out on these fabulous whiskeys from W.D.O’Connell.

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Celtic Cask 25 c/othewhiskeynut

Staying on a peated path – Celtic Cask 25 didn’t disappoint.

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Egan’s Legacy c/othewhiskeynut

The latest 16yo Egan’s Legacy was more of a traditional style.

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The Liberator c/othewhiskeynut

While newcomers Wayward Spirits offered their dark & brooding port cask finished Liberator Blend.

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McConnells of Belfast c/othewhiskeynut 

I was pleased to hear the Crumlin Gaol Distillery is still in the mix with this very well presented blended whisky – minus the ‘e’.

It also marked my final tasting at the show. Although on the train home I did crack open a miniature & sang away to myself!

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Pogues Single Malt c/othewhiskeynut

 

‘I am going, I am going, Where the streams of whiskey are flowing.’

Well the streams of whiskey are certainly flowing from the stills of Irish Whiskey Distilleries!

Slàinte

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My Blind Tasting Irish Whiskey Awards 2019

Hot off the heels of the actual Irish Whiskey Awards 2019 are the results of my own blind tasting findings.

It certainly won’t attract as much fanfare – but it might be of interest to any readers out there interested seeing where my palate goes.

Blind tasting to me is the ultimate leveller.

It’s just you, your palate and the whiskey.

There is no information – not even the categories – and I love it!

There are simply identical bottles filled with whiskey for the judges to sample, rate and enjoy – which is exactly what I did.

This year I only managed the one tasting session – and the results were broadly similar to my previous findings.

Category B

34 entrants – average score 74.

Such a large group of entrants could only be Irish Blends Under €60 – which it was.

My scores were very tight. Ranging from 70 – there were a few – right up to 81 – of which there was only one.

Dunville’s Three Crowns Peated, 43,5%.

Dunvilles Peated CWS
Dunville’s 3 Crowns Peated c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

No contest really. The only peater in the pack. I love peat.

2nd & 3rd followed closely.

Pearse 7 Year Old Distillers Choice & Pearse 5 Year Old Original Blend.

Category D

4 entrants – average score 73.5

Correctly guessed as New Irish Whiskey.

Scores ranged from 70 to 77 and again reflected a ‘work in progress’ theme to the offerings.

My clear winner?

Dingle Single Malt Batch 4, 46.5%.

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Batch 4 at Dingle c/othewhiskeynut

Category E

4 entrants – average score 78

The power of these suggested Irish Cask Strength – and so it proved to be.

Scores ranged from 73 to 81. The winner turned out to be the biggest surprise of the session.

Wild Geese Untamed, Cask Strength, 65%.

Untamed
Wild Geese Untamed c/oTTBOnline

Didn’t see that one coming! A welcome return for Wild Geese Whiskey.

I wish all the entrants – especially all the winners – both my own personal preferences as well as the actual winners – much future success.

Sláinte

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Laughfrog Highland Single Malt, 40%

I couldn’t resist the humour of this Laughfrog Highland Malt Scotch.

The mispronunciations of Laphroaig are legendary – why not turn it into a marketing opportunity?

Pity Select Drams bottled it with Highland Malt – perhaps too close to the bone for Islay?

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Don’t croak it! c/othewhiskeynut

Anyway – it made my glass.

The first thing I noticed – or rather didn’t – was a rich phenolic peat smoke. A more muted sweet biscuity malt greeted me instead.

This followed into the palate which developed a full bodied mouthfeel.

A lovely drying gentle spiciness brought up the tail end.

An entertaining easy going malt with a touch of character & perhaps a dash of peat in the background.

Certainly wouldn’t make you croak!

Sláinte

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Bowmore No 1, 40% vs Art Of The Blend 3, 43%

Which would you choose?

A single malt from a well known Islay Distillery versus a blend sold by an upcoming Lowland Distillery sourced from unnamed origins?

Luckily for me – I had both!

Art Of The Blend 3 was a limited edition release allowing Eden Mill Distillery to practice their blending & marketing skills in advance of their own whisky maturing.

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Art Of The Blend Batch 3 c/othewhiskeynut

It came in a highly attractive bottle – which has since continued into their own releases – containing malt & grain whiskies finished in Islay Whisky Casks.

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Eden Mill’s own whisky c/othewhiskeynut

I found it crisp, clear, vibrant and highly enjoyable.

You could say it was smokin’!

By contrast Bowmore No 1 – named after the warehouse the barrels used in the single malt were aged in – was muted – almost as if the fire had gone out.

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Bowmore No 1 c/othewhiskeynut

The sparkle was missing – and I was a tad disappointed.

The Art Of The Blend 3 just blew it out of the water.

I let my palate choose.

It chose Art Of The Blend 3.

Sláinte

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Micil Irish Poitín, Heritage Edition, 46%

Every now and then there’s a release that just blows away the old myths.

One of the hackneyed stereotypical tropes used is that Irish Whiskey isn’t peated – or as I’m in Ireland – turfed.

Any cursory study of past recipes clearly shows it was – as the collective who collaborated to produce this Heritage Poitín found – and thankfully it now is.

Micil Instagram
Micil distillery Instagram Post

Micil Heritage Poitín is the first spirit to use Irish turf to smoke Irish Barley  & Irish Oats in a long time.

This is a game changer.

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Drinking Poitín at the Distillery c/othewhiskeynut

The other myth is that to be a good whiskey it must be aged – preferably for a long time.

Well – after tasting this fabulous poitín – age is only a number.

This is the original uisce beatha – the water of life – that started the whole whiskey craze.

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Micil’s back label c/othewhiskeynut

It’s pure, it’s clear and it’s a delight to drink.

The final myth is that barley is the be all and end all of whiskey.

Again – no relevance to the actual recipes of the past that traditionally used a mixed mash bill of barley – both malted & unmalted – wheat, rye and oats.

The oats in Micil Heritage Poitín give it a gorgeous creaminess with a depth of body & generous legs.

The turf smoke is like the warm hug of a winters fire sharing the craic with friends & family.

Micil Heritage Poitín is stepping back in time to go forward.

I raise a glass to all involved.

To the return of Irish turf!

Sláinte

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MacLeod’s, Isle Of Skye, 8 Year Old Blended Scotch, 40%

Another miniature from my mixed bag winning auction lot.

I couldn’t resist humming the opening line from the famous Andy Stewart hit song ‘Donald Where’s Yer Troosers?’

‘I’ve just come down from the Isle Of Skye’.

Well some of the whisky in this blend did.

It started off fine – the colour was reassuringly pale.

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An Ian MacLeod brand. c/othewhiskeynut

But the nose was sweet – very sweet – with a dull stale smell.  This one was obviously on the turn!

I took a swig.

Pale, watery & dull.

The only sign of life was a residue smokiness from the peat.

Not undrinkable – but not pleasant.

Pity.

This one had the potential to be a clean fresh easy peater.

I did check the screw cap seal. It was slightly discoloured. A sign – so I’ve been told – the whisky has deteriorated. Seems to hold true in this instance.

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Screw cap discolouration. c/othewhiskeynut

Obviously ‘just come down from the Isle Of Skye’ too long ago!

Sláinte

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Hunter’s Glen, 5 Year Old, Premium Scotch Whisky, Blend, 40%

Random town.

I was away for a few days taking advantage of the fine weather.

Random pub.

Entering a bar for the first time always engenders a sense of excitement.

Random whisky.

You never know what to expect.

Spotting the large green label of Hunter’s Glen on the shelf – it immediately stood out as something I’d not had before.

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Hunter’s Glen Scotch c/othewhiskeynut

Establishing it was Scotch Whisky and not rum – either would have been acceptable – a glass was ordered.

Mmmmmm.

Standard entry level blend material.

Caramelly nose, sweet, smooth & soft with a hint of smoke enlivening an otherwise easy drinking experience.

But who or what is Hunter’s Glen?

The front label states ‘Clydesdale Scotch Whisky Company’, who are part of the Whyte & Mackay group specialising in supermarket blends for Lidl.

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All the way from Greece? c/othewhiskeynut

The back label does mention Lidl, but of Greek origin.

Quite how it ended up in a bar in the West of Ireland is beyond me.

But as a whisky with no pretensions or provenance – I enjoyed it for what it is – a perfectly acceptable everyday sipper with a slightly smoky tingly dryness on the finish.

Sláinte

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Header image courtesy of Irish Times article here.

Glenfiddich, Special Old Reserve, Pure Malt, Single Malt, 40%

It was a new experience for me – taking part in a Whisky Auction.

I wasn’t after rare or collectable bottles – just a few odd ones to try at an affordable price.

I bid on some mixed bags of miniatures – a broad sweep of whiskies to sample – and happily managed to secure one.

The first result flunked.

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A drained Dimple. c/othewhiskeynut

An old Haig Dimple bottle with indeterminate writing on the back had obviously suffered some spirit loss.

The cap was loose too – allowing air in – with predictable results.

Rancid!

The whiskey inside had deteriorated to such an extent the nose was painful – the sample went straight down the sink!

I ploughed on with an intact bottle of Glenfiddich Pure Malt.

Now Pure Malt is an outdated term. It began to fade in the 1980’s and generally denoted what we’d now call a single malt i.e. malt produced at one distillery.  It could also have meant a blended malt i.e. malt produced at more than one distillery, but as Single Malt also appears on the Glenfiddich label – we can count on the former interpretation.

Basically what I had in front of me was an old Glenfiddich Whisky bottle – so I cracked it open and poured myself a drink.

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Glenfiddich Pure Malt c/othewhiskeynut

Mmmmmm!

Clean & fresh!

A heavy butterscotch sweetness combined with a gentle soft smokiness greeted me.

I was just happy to get a bottle that hadn’t gone off!

To be honest I found the sweet caramel too much – but the gentle smokiness – like the wisps of a fire – made it an enjoyable experience.

A pleasant easy drinking single malt with enough character & flavour to keep it cheerful.

The joys of auctions!

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Irish Whiskey Awards – Blind Tasting

It’s that time of year again when preparations for the Irish Whiskey Awards – to be held in Dingle Distillery on October 17th 2019 – begin with an invitation to members of the Celtic Whiskey Club & Irish Whiskey Society along with other industry representatives to attend a series of blind tasting sessions to select the winners for the evening.

Having taken part for a number of years these sessions give a wonderful insight into the current Irish Whiskey scene – provide a chance to meet up with fellow whiskey fans – and test your palate to find the whiskey that suits!

2018’s entrants were both varied, enjoyable & to my palate at least – great quality.

Breaking with previous protocol – no categories were given – so you could only guess if you were having a single grain or single pot still simply by what your palate told you – and I often guessed wrong!

The following are the results of my 2018 blind tasting.

Irish Blends Under €60

This is usually one of the most hotly contested categories with the largest entrants – and biggest sales!

My scores (out of 100) were rather tight – ranging from the low 70’s to mid 80’s. Out of 25 blends – average scores were 77. I only gave 4 marks of 80 and above.

Top of the pile was Dunville’s Three Crowns Peated.

Dunvilles-Three-Crowns-Peated-776x1176
Dunville’s Three Crowns Peated c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

A decent peated blend is always a favourite of mine!

Following closely behind was Clonakilty Port Cask Finish,

with Dubliner Whiskey Master Distiller’s Reserve & Pearse Distiller’s Choice coming in joint 3rd.

Single Malts Under 12 Years

Also with 25 entrants – this was a bumper field reflecting the growth in Irish Whiskey.

With a slightly higher average score of 79 there were 9 bottles with scores of 80 & above.

The winner? Connemara Single Malt .

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Connemara Single Malt c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Peat wins out again!

3 joined in 2nd place; Dunville’s PX12 Year Old, Jack Ryan Toomevara 10 Year Old & Tyrconnell 10 Year Old Port Cask.

Single Grains

I really enjoyed this category of only 7 entrants. I found them all to be clean & refreshing whiskey with a good depth of flavour & complexity which resulted in a high average score of 83.

In a closely fought contest featuring a head to head to discern the winner – Teeling Single Grain just pipped the post ahead of Hyde #5 Burgundy Finish.

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Teeling Single Grain c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Cask Strength

A small yet powerful field of only 4. All scored above 80 with an average of 82.

Congratulations to The Whistler 7 Year Old Cask Strength.

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The Whistler & Year Old Cask Strength c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Joint 2nd winners were; Hyde 8 Year Old Single Grain Cask Strength & Redbreast 12 Year Old Cask Strength.

New Distilleries

Again a small field of only 4 with a varied selection of entrants. The low average of 77 reflects a certain ‘works in progress’ as to the quality – and age? – of product coming exclusively from the newest whiskey distilleries in Ireland.

There was a clear winner however.

Dingle Single Malt Batch 3

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Dingle Single Malt Batch 3 c/oCelticWhiskeyShop

Kilbeggan Small Batch Rye & Pearse Lyons Distillery Reserve Cask Strength came in joint 2nd.

I find it reassuring to note some of the same names keep cropping up in my winning choices; Teeling, Hyde & Dingle for example. And it should come as no surprise I enjoy a dash of peat – along with a good bourbon cask matured whiskey. Although if a finish is required port & sherry seem to do well!

I raise a toast to congratulate all my winners – and the actual winners on the evening here.

Looking forward to see what 2019 brings!

Sláinte

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Many thanks to all at the Celtic Whiskey Shop for organising the tasting sessions as well as the awards ceremony itself & the bottle images above.

Kilbeggan Distilling Co Miniature Irish Whiskey Collection

Miniature gift sets make ideal gifts – they also make for an enjoyable tasting session.

Back to back comparisons very soon show up the range & diversity of flavours, styles & tastes from any whiskey distillery’s output – and the drinker will very quickly discern the particular flavour profile suitable for their individual palate.

I recently picked up the revamped Kilbeggan Distilling Co Irish Whiskey Collection at my local Kilbeggan Distillery in Westmeath – flag bearer to the Beam/Suntory owned sister Cooley Distillery in Louth where the bulk of the whiskey is made.

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Cooley Distillery name plaque c/othewhiskeynut

I got things rolling with ‘The Complex One’ – the Kilbeggan Single Grain.

Showing its new livery – along with the other featured brands – and a boosted 43% ABV with additional maturation in sherry & wine casks – this softly sweet Single Grain displayed a pleasingly varied range of flavours, a little prickly spice & warming heat on the satisfyingly long finish.

A great introductory single grain whiskey.

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Which one would you choose? c/othewhiskeynut

The ‘Sweet One’ came next. Kilbeggan Traditional Irish Whiskey – or a blended whiskey to you and me.

Now I must admit to having a soft spot for this blend. On blind tastings it always comes out vying for top spot within the category.

Easy, approachable, but with enough maltiness & depth of flavour to keep it interesting – this is an entry level blend that never disappoints.

The ‘Fruity One’ came in at 100 to 1 – or at least the famous horse the Tyrconnell Single Malt is named after did.

This is the non aged statement (NAS) version of a brand that has many cask finished & age statemented brothers & sisters to explore.

Ex bourbon barrel maturation only allows a warm fruitiness to shine through with a crisper, cleaner taste experience for my palate at least. Very nice.

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Old & new labels c/othewhiskeynut

The final offering is ‘The Smoky One’ – the Connemara Single Malt.

The Connemara range is sadly reduced to just this NAS – and the 12 year old. Gone for the time being are the fabulous 22 year old and Turf Mór expressions. Which is a pity – as peated Irish whiskey is an underrepresented flavour profile within the market.

The smoke in this single malt is rather dry & ashy, complimented by some gentle sweetness. There isn’t much complexity, but its a style I love – and I go out of my way to seek its pleasures.

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I got my Turf Mór! c/othewhiskeynut

There isn’t a bad whiskey in this range.

Just 4 differing styles & types of Irish Whiskey.

You have the single grain, the single malt & the blend combining both – along with that rare commodity in Irish Whiskey – peat.

I’d have to give my top pick to the smoky Connemara – even if the Tyrconnell has more complexity within its softer & subtler flavours.

Choosing between the Kilbeggan Single Grain or Blend is also a tough call – but I’d plump for the Single Grain. Simply because the wonderful flavours within showcase what a wonderful whisky a decent single grain can be.

Which one would you pick?

Sláinte.

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